Strengthen your Immunity with Supplements
It’s the end of October, and we all know what that means: holiday madness and joy are kicking in full-swing, the weather finally “feels like autumn” and yes, “cold, flu and Covid-19 season” is back to rear its ugly head. No one wants to miss a moment or a magical memory by falling ill, so we encourage you to take every precaution this year (and always) to keep yourselves and your families healthy and safe. There is no magic bullet or potion to prevent you from catching a virus, but there are certainly a few fundamental pillars that will help keep your immune system strong during the critical months ahead:
- Don’t smoke or vape. Period
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation (max 2 drinks/night for men and 1 drink/night for women)
- Eat a primarily plant-based diet (high in veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds)
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night
- Control stress levels and blood pressure
- Supplement daily with immune-boosting vitamins, minerals or herbals (note: no vitamin or supplement can cure Covid-19 nor has the FDA approved any to help prevent or treat the effects of Covid-19. The use of vitamins, minerals or herbals in the context of Covid-19 is theoretical at this point based on studies supporting their immune-boosting effects).
Since the first six pillars that I listed are pretty self-explanatory, let's take a minute to dig deeper into supplementation. Of course always check with your Primary Care Physician before beginning any vitamin/supplement regimen, but here are six that we make sure to incorporate into our routines every day.
Vitamin C is probably the most popular supplement for protecting against infection. It plays several essential roles in immune health: supporting immune cell function, clearing out old cells and replacing them with new healthy ones, and protecting against oxidative stress (free radicals). Several studies show that regular supplementation of Vitamin C can help speed recovery and significantly reduce symptoms of the common cold and other viral infections. Additionally, because it is an antioxidant, vitamin C may help reduce inflammation—including lung inflammation and acute respiratory distress syndrom (ARDS). Typical daily dosage ranges from 250-1000 mg depending on bio-individuality and specific concerns.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient which is critical to healthy immune function. It helps the body maintain optimal blood levels of calcium and phosphorous, enhances the pathogen-fighting effects of white blood cells and reduces inflammation which improves proper immune response. Numerous studies show that supplementing with Vitamin D significantly decreases the risk of respiratory tract infections, including influenza, bronchitis and allergic asthma. Additionally, it may even improve one’s response to anti-viral treatments.
B Complex vitamins
The Vitamin B complex consists of eight water-soluble vitamins that work synergistically to fight pathogens in the body. They help boost our energy levels which is critical in maintaining a healthy functioning immune system. The most essential one for immunity in particular is B6, otherwise known as pyridoxine. Pyridoxine is responsible for making new red & white blood cells and T-cells, transporting oxygen through the body and creating the protein that directs white blood cell function. Vitamin B supplements should be taken daily because they can not be stored in the body.
Zinc is a mineral that is essential for immune cell development and plays a critical role in inflammatory response. According to the NIH (National Institute of Health), zinc actually helps produce and activate T-cells which activate the body’s infection-fighting response. Supplementing with zinc may help shorten the length of rhinovirus colds and speed the resolution of symptoms such as congestion, sore throat and cough. For optimal results in fighting illness or infection, begin supplementing within 24 hours of symptom-onset. However, taking zinc capsules or lozenges daily is GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) for most healthy adults as long as the daily dose does not exceed 30mg.
There are approximately 30 known types of elder plants across the world but the Sambucus Nigra (found in Europe) is the one touted most frequently for its health and healing benefits. Its medicinal use can be traced back as far as 400 BC, and even Hippocrates referred to it as a “medicine chest.” Elderberry flowers and berries are rich in immune-boosting antioxidants and anti-viral compounds that may help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. The syrup has also been shown to help reduce the length and severity of cold, flu, sinus infection (and possibly Covid-19) symptoms.
Garlic, which is a member of the allium (onion) family, has been used throughout history for its incredible health and medicinal properties. We know that because of garlic’s potent anti-viral properties, it can help prevent and reduce severity of illnesses such as the common cold, influenza and possibly even Covid-19. In fact, one study found that participants who took a daily garlic supplement over a three-month period experienced 63% less colds than those in a placebo group, and that the average length of cold symptoms was reduced by 70%, from 5 days in the placebo group to just 1.5 days in the garlic group. However you choose to incorporate garlic into your diet – either in its pure plant form or as capsule - you can’t go wrong adding it to your daily regime.
Please note: vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements may have contraindications in your system either with each other, or with OTC or prescription medications, so always consult with your primary care physician prior to starting use. And as always, feel free to DM us or reach out on our website for any questions you may have, or for specific brand recommendations, Amazon links, etc. Stay healthy and safe this season, and Happy Halloween!